The past week has been a bit nuts, with the start of the semester, which explains the delay!
As I slip off toward my own past, the ghostly version of my younger self that I glimpsed a moment earlier remains where he was, disappearing from my view as I find myself soaring toward my young adulthood.
It’s then that, just like a hundred times a day, a little jazz lick flitters through my mind, my fingers keeping up with the melodic movement as best they can. I find myself wondering, suddenly… could I?
Grimacing with concentration, I will myself toward that night—a night I vaguely remember, one I’ve thought about many times over the years. The sensation is strange, like the rubber-band sensation changes: now it’s the tension of a rubber band stretched between two hands, though of course it has nothing to do with fingers or thumbs.
And then, without any slowing or shift in my, can I call it momentum? I don’t know, but whatever it is, it sort of just slips into nonbeing as I slide into space and time. I’m in a dark room, shocked to realize I’m not in my parent’s house at all, but in my single-room flat in Montreal, my horn in the corner.
I somehow know this is the night, even if I didn’t remember where that night happened. There were many nights like this, in this apartment, me giving up on so many things, but that horn case in the corner: yeah, this is the night.
Where am I? Did I go out at some point? Maybe down to the little grocery next to the building? Or maybe I’m at the greasy spoon across the street with Jack?
Unsure how much time I have, I grab the horn case and open it up. The air inside is a little stale, and I have to hunt for a fresh reed, but I find one, and shove it into my mouth, sucking hard to pull my saliva through the pores of the face and into the heart of the wood.
While I hydrate the reed, I grab the little manuscript notebook from the case—the same one I’d take to India, later on—and scribble on the page:
As I place the notebook on the horn, I am struck by a bizarre sense of déjà-vu: was my horn out, that night? Was this note there? I’d wondered for years what made me carry my tenor sax over to Korea, even after having not played it seriously for months, even though I was considering giving up playing completely. If I hadn’t that, I wouldn’t have ended up in that band, wouldn’t have ended up getting my wind controllers and making those sountracks for my wife… everything would have been different.
Or… was it? Am I remembering what happened after I wrote this, a new life, a different pathway through time?
Am I not remembering new memories, but just remembering forgotten ones? Were these notes I’d been leaving always there?
I think of the software I’d finished loading onto my computer, the WX-5 wind controller and VL-70m I’d just gotten connected again, the flute that I’ve brought out so I could to play little tunes for my son, the old compositions I’d finally started inputting into Musescore during quiet hours of the night, and the Adam Neely videos I started watching not long ago that managed to teach me things I never learned as a music major, and helped confirm my criticisms of what I did learn.
Yeah, I think, when the pandemic’s done—if I’m still around—I need to find myself a practice room. All those chops I built up during those years off teaching… I want them back. I want to go farther.
Then I hear a soft pop behind me, and when I turn, I see… myself, back turned to me, staring at that painting on the wall. He’s… I guess he’s eleven, maybe twelve. It’s definitely me: I recognize that shirt, that camouflage cap, those shoes. Should I remember this? Does he understand what’s happening to him? Does he need my help?
He doesn’t see me yet, and I get a strong feeling that I’m not supposed to be seeing him either, but I open my mouth, about to call out to him. At the same time, he begins to turn, I fight to resist the suddenly tense rubber band feeling, the rapid yanking sensation that comes over me. But I can’t resist it, and I find myself ripped from time and sent tumbling again, toward…
I’m not sure, but I think I’m headed to where where he just came from.